Growth hacking is the skill of the future. It is most commonly linked to startups, digital marketing, data and technology although it is not easy to agree on a universal definition of the concept. According to Peter van Sabben, co-founder of top European growth hacking academy, Growth Tribe, it is a way of doing marketing based on data and rapid experiments. “It’s the opposite of saying ‘ What a good idea, let’s go with it!’ This is because now we can trace everything using mobile and website technology and we can create different versions of the same action and analyse what works best.” Participants of the International Master’s in Marketing had the chance to listen to Peter when they visited Growth Tribe as part of their International Trip to Amsterdam. During his masterclass, he explained that “the key to growth hacking lies in doing rapid experiments and quick measurements to see which tactics give the best results.”
A clear example of growth hacking can be seen on the website of the current French president, Emmanuel Macron because it contains different ways of interacting with the user. There is a newsletter sign up forms, chatbots, manuals and attractive content which requires the user to fill in a form. There are also tools for identifying trending topics and finding new customer segments. Van Sabben argues that “companies such as Amazon, Uber, Google or Facebook have become big companies by having the best strategy and the right people but also by doing a lot of experimentation.”
Growth hacking is here to stay
Growth hacking has been brought about by market changes which are forcing marketing departments to constantly rethink. There is an increasing number of complex channels and advertising is becoming less effective as consumer habits evolve and subscription services such as Spotify and Netflix offer customers advert free listening or viewing. Van Sabben adds that “ad blockers are complicating the marketers’ ability to reach customers.”
Furthermore, in both the digital world and non-digital world, the need to measure everything means that for professionals everything becomes data driven. According to van Sabben, in many tech companies, the profile of Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) not only includes experience in marketing or branding but also in data analysis or economics because it is a profile which contains better analytical skills.
For the International Master’s students, finding out about the profile of a growth hacker was of particular interest. Growth hackers usually work in small technical teams with a mix of profiles. Their focus varies depending on the performance of the data but the teams’ main objective is always the rapid growth of the business. There is an increasing demand for growth hacking by both startups and big companies which are using it to train up their teams.
The need to adapt to this fast-paced digital world is forcing companies to make rapid changes. This is where growth hacking makes the most of agile working methodologies where small teams of up to eight people with different profiles (Sales, Marketing, Finance, Communication etc.) work on short-term projects. When the project is finished, the teams move on to a new one.
Van Sabben sums up by saying “we cannot predict the future because it’s going to change very quickly but if we want to get ahead, we have to use rapid experimentation.” In the words of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, “being wrong may be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure.”